Cortney O'Brien -  Sanders Places One-Child Policy Activist and Israel Critics on DNC Platform Committee
Posted: 5/24/2016 2:00:00 PM EST

Will the Democratic National Committee come to regret its decision to offer Bernie Sanders seats on a key committee at the July convention? After granting the Vermont senator five positions on the Platform Drafting Committee, he chose a few of the most controversial figures available.

Among his choices are Bill McKibben, an environmentalist who has penned support for a one-child policy in the United States. In his book called “Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families,” McKibben argues that single-child households will help space out our dangerously overcrowded population.

Sanders also offered seats to figures who have spewed hate against Israel, such as Dr. Cornel West. West, for instance, once accused Israel of launching a “crime against humanity” and said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blood on his hands.

That may be nothing, though, compared to Arab American Institute President Jim Zogby’s history of attacking our Middle Eastern ally. Zogby, another Sanders supporter who will sit on the DNC platform committee, has made it clear Israel comes second to the needs of Palestinians.

Zogby is likely the most controversial of Sanders' picks thanks to his activist work on behalf of pro-Palestinian causes. He's repeatedly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself hasn't always been the favorite of pro-Israel Democrats, and he's compared the "plight of the Palestinians" to the Holocaust in a 2010 column for The Huffington Post. 

Clearly, Sanders is trying to make a statement at this summer’s DNC convention. These three figures represent a radical wing in the Democratic Party and would push the party platform far left. How will that fare in the November election? How will Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee as far as the math is concerned, be able to explain to independents her party’s radical progressive agenda?

Guy Benson - Report: Hillary Flushes Failing 'First Woman President' Narrative
Posted: 5/24/2016 1:55:00 PM EST

Ed Morrissey is right; this is a nice catch by The DC's Chuck Ross, who reads past the bits of this Associated Press story about Team Hillary reveling in Trump's personal attacks (which we'll revisit shortly) and flags an interesting tidbit. Based on private public opinion research conducted by the pro-abortion group EMILY's List, the Clinton campaign has dropped  its thematic focus on the candidate's status as the potential first female president. Why? Read for yourself:

Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors. Hillary Clinton stopped referring to herself as the potential “youngest woman president” during campaign stump speeches after polling showed that it was not helping with voters and donors...According to the Associated Press, "Clinton dropped the reference after Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-abortion Democratic women and is backing Hillary, provided the campaign with a report showing that it did not help the former secretary of state. 'Clinton has stopped explicitly mentioning her role in history and joking about being the “youngest woman president.' That’s by design: Those kinds of direct appeals weren’t working with voters. 'De-emphasize the ‘first’ talk,' advised a research report done by Emily’s List. 'They already know she’d be the first woman president,' the report said of donors, 'but we don’t get anything by reminding them.'"

In other words, people are already aware of this dynamic and they don't especially care. Trump has ridiculed Mrs. Clinton, opining that the only asset she has going for her in the campaign is "the women's card."  Though he may claim victory over this new revelation, it's highly unlikely that the Clinton camp will de-emphasize gender altogether. Gender-based appeals and attacks are a staple of the Democratic playbook, and Clinton's in particular. She also needs to win women decisively to beat her Republican opponent, who happens to have very serious vulnerabilities among the female electorate. Morrissey examines the "gender gap" issue in his post, which deals with some of the data we looked at yesterday that demonstrates Hillary's substantial lead with women has been effectively canceled out by her deep unpopularity among men thus far:

In 2012, Mitt Romney won male voters by a 52/45 margin, not far off from the NBC/WSJ result, while Obama won women 55/44. Both results are within the margin of error from the NBC/WSJ splits. In 2004, the numbers looked different but the overall gender gap was similar; George W. Bush won men 55/44 while John Kerry won women 51/48, for a gender gap of +8 to the winner. In 2012, the gender gap was +4 to the winner, and now it’s +4 to Hillary, who leads in that poll. So the issue may be less of “backfire” than of sheer ineffectiveness. The results from the Democratic primaries have already demonstrated that much, with Bernie Sanders competing well among women, and of late winning women on his way to a string of primary victories. Those trends began forming long before Trump started focusing his attacks on Hillary Clinton. The gender card does not appear to carry much weight even among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, so why would anyone think that it would have more impact among general-election voters? That shouldn’t have taken a study from Emily’s List (!) to figure out, but … that’s Team Hillary in a nutshell.

By the way, the overall thrust of the AP piece is how Team Hillary believes Trump's signature personal attacks will benefit her campaign over the arch of the general election campaign -- which reflects the concern I expressed yesterday. Here's their theory of how this will all shake out:

Hillary Clinton has a message for Donald Trump: keep on talking. She's just weeks away from wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination, and friends, aides and supporters describe a candidate who isn't particularly rattled by what she expects will be Trump's increasingly direct attacks on her marriage and husband's personal indiscretions. In fact, Clinton believes that she can turn Trump's deeply personal assaults to her benefit, they say, particularly among suburban women who could be crucial to her hopes in the fall. Her plan is never to engage in any back-and-forth over the scandals. Instead, she'll merely cast him as a bully and talk about policy. "I don't care what he says about me, but I do resent what he says about other people, other successful women, who have worked hard, who have done their part," she told an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, this month. Trump has made clear that nothing is off-limits.

That sentence in bold confirms my contention that there's no way Hillary is burning the gender card altogether; it's her default setting, and it's irresistibly potent against Trump. It seems as though she'll strive to shrug off personal criticisms against her (allowing surrogates to savage him in response), but constantly remind voters of Trump's history of offensive women-related statements and conduct -- including nasty shots at Megyn KellyHeidi Cruz and Carly Fiorina, over the course of the GOP primary alone. As for Trump's attitude that 'nothing is off limits,' the billionaire has already taken direct aim at allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, and will no doubt lean into the Clintons' connection to the revolting creep of "pedophile island" in the weeks and months to come. I'll leave you with the presumptive GOP nominee's latest tactic, raising the issue of decades-old conspiracies about Vince Foster's death while cynically asserting that he, er, wouldn't raise the issue:

He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.” “He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

In fairness, this answer was in response to a question, but it's really quite something to watch this guy pretend to dismiss a topic as out of bounds, while branding it "very serious" and "very fishy."  I won't discuss it in depth because it's unfair, but these other people certainly will, because they're convinced Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons. He's practically begging people to Google it. As right-leaning Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson notes today, the man sure does love wild, reckless conspiracy theories.

Matt Vespa - With Shootings Up 50 Percent, Chicago Should Expect A Bloody Summer
Posted: 5/24/2016 1:30:00 PM EST

Chicago was wracked with another string of shootings this weekend that left five people dead and 40 wounded between last Friday afternoon and Monday morning (via ABC 7 Chicago):

A city employee caught in gang crossfire was among five people killed and 40 more wounded in shootings across Chicago between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

Chicago Police issued a statement Sunday in the middle of one of the first consistently warm weekends of the spring, as intensified city gun violence typically accompanies rising temperatures.

"As we look toward the summer months, Superintendent Johnson has made it very clear that the violence will not be tolerated - period," the statement said. "The cause of the violence traces back decades, and everyone has a role to play in fixing it - police working with parents, judges, residents, clergy, community leaders, and others. Put simply, we need more values, fewer guns and stronger sentences against violence offenders."

On Monday alone, 11 people were wounded in shootings across the city. On May 21, shootings killed one person and wounded seven in a 90-minute period. The Chicago Tribune reported that 1,382 people have been shot so far this year, 244 have been killed, and that the city is witnessing levels of violence associated with the summer months. With the number of shootings up 50 percent from last year, the Windy City could be in for a very bloody summer. We have the Memorial Day weekend coming up, which, like most holiday weekends in Chicago, is maligned by bloodshed.

This past Mother’s Day was the most violent weekend the city has seen since last September. Last year’s Memorial Day weekend ended with 12 people killed and 44 wounded in various shootings. We should expect the same this year–sadly.

Matt Vespa - NBC and ABC News Shine Spotlight On Democratic Divide, 15 Percent Of Obama Voters Supporting Trump
Posted: 5/24/2016 12:45:00 PM EST

It’s a year of complete unpredictability this election cycle. At their own peril, many Republicans wrote off Donald Trump - he’s now the presumptive nominee. Many correctly predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic Party’s nomination (she's 85 delegates away), though the level of divisions between the Clinton and Sanders camps wasn’t projected to get this intense or fractured. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, like Trump, has amassed a loyal army that doesn’t seem eager to wave the white flag, and a significant chunk aren’t committed to backing Clinton in the general when Sanders is eventually beaten for the nomination come July.

The Sunday morning talk shows put a spotlight on the Democratic civil war that reached a new level of intensity during the chaotic Nevada Democratic Convention in Las Vegas last week. Yes, the vast majority of Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary in November, but 17 percent plan to vote for Donald Trump, according to NBC News’ Chuck Todd. ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos noted that 15 percent of Obama voters plan on voting for Donald Trump.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball also said on CBS’ Face The Nation that she’s surprised the level of division has become this deep on the Democratic side. Moreover, she added that it’s not just a question about Clinton bringing the party together, but whether she can win over Independents and young voters — core factions in the Sanders army — who have voted for the Vermont senator in those open primary contests — many of whom have been “immune” to Clinton’s hopelessly inauthentic stump speeches. Again, we’re circling back to Hillary Clinton, the campaigner, in which she’s not Bill, and certainly not Barack Obama.

Democrats say the longer Sanders stays in the race, the more his attacks on Clinton will resonate. She’s already facing criticism for being a corrupt, a liar, not transparent, or an amalgam of the three; Sanders is hitting her for refusing to disclose her Wall Street transcripts, while Trump is calling her “crooked Hillary,” an attack that does have cross party appeal.

The Democrats’ conflict is now percolating to down ballot races, with Sanders supporting Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) primary opponent, Tim Canova, who has raised $250,000 since he received the endorsement from the self-described Democratic socialist.

In the meantime, the Republican Party seems to be unifying around Trump at an accelerated rate. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was staunchly anti-Trump in the primaries, but he’s now trying (covertly) to get the rest of the conservative wing to back the billionaire real estate magnate. The key, though moderate, Philly suburbs have taken a liking to Trump in Pennsylvania. The National Rifle Association endorsed Trump at their Annual Meeting last weekend as well. Republicans already have their guy, and the wounds from the primary seem to be healing—while the blood sports continue on the left.

Christine Rousselle - Bernie Sanders Is Running Low on Cash
Posted: 5/24/2016 12:20:00 PM EST

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) isn't doing too hot in the fundraising department. He's got less than $6 million in the bank this month, and that isn't good for his future endeavors. Hillary Clinton has five times as much cash as he does.

Sanders has also been spending money at a much higher rate than Clinton, and his fundraising has all but evaporated.

Sanders’ rival had five times as much money, according to new Federal Election Commission filings, beginning the month with $30 million in the bank.

The two were on roughly equal fundraising footing last month, with Clinton and Sanders each raising more than $25 million. But the Vermont senator spent almost $39 million to Clinton’s $24 million, the reports showed.

This year, Sanders has averaged more than $40 million in spending per month, underlining how quickly he could blow through the cash he had on hand at the beginning of May.

Sanders has pledged to stay in the race until the DNC, which will be held the last week of July in Philadelphia. This being said, it's going to be hard to argue a viable candidacy if there's no money to be had.

While Sanders' campaign was once on fire, it's looking as though things will be Berning out pretty quickly.

Matt Vespa - Brace Yourselves, Ivy League–The Asians Are Coming
Posted: 5/24/2016 11:45:00 AM EST

Despite the rise of qualified Asian-American applicants to Ivy League schools, the number of acceptances has dropped. The allegation that Ivy schools have discriminated against Asians has been hurled for years, but a new group is putting Dartmouth College, Brown University, and Yale University in the crosshairs by asking the Department of Education to launch an inquiry (via WSJ):

While the population of college age Asian-Americans has doubled in 20 years and the number of highly qualified Asian-American students “has increased dramatically,” the percentage accepted at most Ivy League colleges has flatlined, according to the complaint. It alleges this is because of “racial quotas and caps, maintained by racially differentiated standards for admissions that severely burden Asian-American applicants.”

The schools named in the complaint all said they used a holistic approach and evaluated each applicant individually in an effort to build a diverse class.

The complaint, said a spokesman from Brown, is without merit.

[…]

The complaint filed Monday by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, which consists of more than 100 organizations, makes many of the same points as the previous complaint against Harvard. It charges that the number of Asian-Americans at the three schools is capped and a special “just-for-Asians admissions standard” is in place. Admissions officers “often treat Asian-American applicants as a monolithic block rather than as individuals, and denigrate these applicants as lacking in creativity/critical thinking and leadership skills/risk taking.”

In an accompanying petition, the group said it filed this complaint because even if it hits a legal wall it will generate social and political pressure. After the Department of Education started investigating Harvard in 1988, its admission rate of Asian-Americans jumped to 16.1% in 1991 from 10.8%. After students filed a complaint against Princeton in 2006, its admission rate increased to 25.4% in 2014 from 14.7% in 2007.

[…]

The complaint against Harvard last year cited third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard. The exam is scored on a 2400-point scale.

Last year, there were some stories that highlighted the Ivy League’s supposed “Asian Problem,” specifically at Harvard, which has a history of racism within its admissions process. In the early 20th Century, the school did have caps on Jewish students to maintain its reputation as a white protestant institution of learning. I don’t think racism is at play here with this complaint filed by the Asian-American Coalition for Education, but it does highlight that affirmative action is quite unfair—in education and the workplace.

Christine Rousselle - Marvel Fans Want Captain America to Have a Boyfriend
Posted: 5/24/2016 11:35:00 AM EST

On Tuesday, one of the top trending topics on Twitter was #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend as users expressed their desire for the Marvel superhero to be in a same-sex relationship in the next film.

Many have suggested that Captain America's best friend, Bucky/Winter Soldier, would be a suitable boyfriend.

A similar trend, asking Disney to give Queen Elsa a girlfriend, hit Twitter a few weeks ago.

While I personally don't care who Captain America wants to sleep with, I do find it upsetting that the concept of platonic love has been completely tossed aside in the minds of those shipping a Cap/Bucky romance. Love doesn't have to be sexual. A relationship can be completely fulfilling without progressing to the next level.

Justin Holcomb  - Hillary Caught In a Mix-Up: "You Should Be Willing to Debate Anytime, Anywhere"
Posted: 5/24/2016 11:30:00 AM EST

Hillary Clinton just can't seem to shake off Democratic rival Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary.  After being challenged by the Vermont senator to a California debate, she has announced she will not participate in the potential debate.  

However, eight years ago while she was running against Barack Obama, she adamantly expressed that presidential candidates should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.  

“Honestly, I just believe this is the most important job in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere,” Clinton said on May 23, 2008.

Cortney O'Brien - McAuliffe: Investigation Has 'Nothing to Do' With the Clinton Foundation
Posted: 5/24/2016 11:00:00 AM EST

Gov. Terry McAuliffe talked to the press Tuesday morning about the breaking news he was under FBI investigation for accepting shady foreign campaign donations, particularly the $120,000 he received from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang.

U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal, state or local elections, CNN explains. Yet, Wang may be exonerated by the fact he has permanent resident status in the U.S.

McAuliffe said he was “shocked” by the news. Yet, he’s “very confident” Wenliang had been vetted by legal teams and the investigation will come to nothing.

The governor’s attorney, moreover, released a statement insisting the donations from Wenlaing were “completely lawful.”

Reporters then questioned McAuliffe about his relationship to the Clintons, particularly his position as a board member for the Clinton Foundation. But, he insisted he was “proud” to be a part of the foundation’s efforts and that the investigation has “nothing to do” with the foundation.

“We travel in the same circles,” he said in regards to his relationship to Hillary Clinton. “We have a lot of the same friends.”

McAuliffe, however, just held a fundraiser for the presidential candidate over the weekend.

News of the McAuliffe probe comes one day after he held a high-dollar fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. https://t.co/eGAm8QKdUK (h/t @jeneps)

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 23, 2016

Is this investigation a bigger deal than McAuliffe’s composed reaction suggests?

Katie Pavlich - VA Chief Refuses to Apologize After Comparing Veteran Wait Times to Rides at Disney
Posted: 5/24/2016 10:40:00 AM EST

In case you missed it yesterday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald argued during a breakfast with reporters that Disney doesn't measure wait times, so why should his agency? 

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" McDonald said.

First, Disney takes wait times very seriously and spends thousands of dollars each year improving and shortening wait times for customers. The company goes to great lengths to measure and keep track of wait times and has even developed an app that tells ride goers how long they'll wait at a particular place inside Disney theme parks. 

Second, despite heavy criticism and the fact more than 300,000 veterans (so far) have died waiting for care, McDonald is  refusing to apologize for making the flippant comparison and those who work for him are doing damage control.

We know that Veterans are still waiting too long for care. In our effort to determine how we can better meet Veterans' needs, knowing that their satisfaction is our most important measure, we have heard them tell us that wait times alone are not the only indication of their experience with VA and that's why we must transform the way we do business," the VA released in a statement yesterday. 

VA officials have been saying for years the Department and hospitals must be "transformed" to better serve veterans waiting for care. Regardless, nothing has changed. Despite additional funding, VA wait times have doubled since the VA scandal broke two years ago. The system is still steeped in problems, including suicide hotlines going unanswered. 

If McDonald can't apologize for making an irresponsible statement about wait times, how can we expect him to change the indifferent culture still plaguing VA hospitals around the country?

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